WINDHOEK – Public transportation, both via road and air, is still readily available from Namibia to Zimbabwe despite the political and civil unrest that flared up in the southern African nation this week. However, while transportation companies say they are ready to drive and fly, most of the buses destined for Zimbabwe are practically empty and flights under-booked as travellers seem to be waiting for the unrest to subside before travelling to the troubled country.
Meanwhile, Air Namibia yesterday confirmed to New Era that none of their flights to Zimbabwe have thus far been cancelled and the airline is continuing with its three weekly flights to Harare. This is despite some South African airlines, like FastJet, cancelling all flights to Zimbabwe.
According to Air Namibia’s Corporate Communications Officer for External and Public Relations, Twaku Kayofa, Air Namibia’s town office was severely affected by the shutdown of internet and telephone services. However, he emphasised that none of the airport’s operational services were affected by civil unrest in Zimbabwe. In fact, Kayofa confirmed that Air Namibia will actually increase its services to Zimbabwe later this year from three to four flights a week due to increased demand on the route.
In addition, Intercape, which is the largest inter-city bus service in the southern African region, yesterday confirmed that service to Zimbabwe is back on following a brief disruption earlier in the week. Intercape travels to a number of Zimbabwean destinations, namely Harare, Bulawayo, Victoria Falls, Gweru, Masvingo and Kwekwe.
Similarly, drivers of mini-buses from Windhoek’s Soweto Market also told New Era that they are ready and willing to transport passengers to Zimbabwe. However, when New Era visited the market yesterday all of the mini-buses were practically empty with only a few drivers sitting around waiting for customers.
This week’s unrest in Zimbabwe was sparked by that government’s unexpected announcement of massive 150 percent fuel price hikes, with petrol rising from US$1.24 to US$3.31 a litre and diesel rising from US$1.36 to US$3.11. These enormous increases have since made Zimbabwe the most expensive country in the world to fill up a vehicle.
Following widespread protests against the fuel increases, which subsequently turned violent and resulted in extensive looting and property damage, Zimbabwe was completely shut down. Banks, the stock market and schools are closed while roads in and out of the main towns remained blocked with transport systems having been shut down.
Also, newspapers were suspended and the internet and social media have been shut down by the government with most business coming to a complete standstill. More concerning is that most bus services into the country, mainly from South Africa, bringing desperately needed imported food supplies, were also reported to have been suspended.
2019-01-18 09:47:50 3 months ago